tv Hardball With Chris Matthews MSNBC October 3, 2011 4:00pm-5:00pm PDT
courage and with toughness on behalf of children in a way that all my life i will remember and i will honor you. >> thank you for that. >> for the degree to which you were willing to take on issues in behalf of children. >> thank you. thank all for watching. thank you all for a nice birthday. but don't go anywith because "hardball" starts right now. the great democratic debate. let's play "hardball." good evening. i'm chris matthews in washington with this special edition of "hardball." the great democratic debate. should president obama run for re-election as a passionate progressive? daring to be called radical by his enemies, should he shoot the moon like fdr did in 1936? or should he head closer to the middle, stake out common ground with independents, warning
against the radicalism of the right? should he play it shrewd like bill clinton did? think of the stakes if he gets it right he gets four more years to get the economy fully back on track with full employment the norm the country heading forward to greener pastures and bluer skies conning the march toward a cleaner environment, protected climate, more tolerant, fully employed society. if he blows it the tea partiers and neo cons come roaring back into washington emptying out the heritage foundation and american enterprise institute, erecting statues to dick cheney, celebrating the death penalty, elevating torture, ending environmental protection as we know it, breaking unions, punishing gays, starting more wars and enacting one more giant tax cut for the rich or worse. can you think of a more important debate than the one we're having tonight? let's get at it with the great michael moore author of the new book "here comes trouble" and
the brilliant mark penn with whom i start. mark, how does the president get another shot, four more years. what is his smart move? >> the president has to move to the center and rebuild the coalition he had that was a winning coalition just a few years ago when he brought together those people with the lowest incomes, those people with the highest incomes, progressive, intelligent, smart, new professionals who want to vote democratic because they've moved socially liberal but they're economically in the center. >> michael moore, your thought on that. how should he continue what he's doing, hold his party together? >> i sort of -- i don't know if i agree with the definition of terms here. i think president obama should move to the center because he is not there now. the center of american public opinion right now is the vast majority of americans want to tax the rich. every poll shows that. the vast majority of americans want these wars to end asap. the vast majority of americans
want strong environmental laws. you go down the whole list of things, that's the center position. what you're calling the left position is actually the center middle position, the majority of americans want this and they don't want social security or medicare touched. not one single dime of it touched. the more that he talks about creating some grand bargain with the republicans or trying to appease them in some way, that's why he, i think, has suffered in recent times, because he's left where the center of real, where the real political majority is in this country right now and he's gone over to try and play kate this other side. when he does that he loses so many people that are either no longer interested in him or they'll vote for him but they're depressed about it. >> to make that point, enthusiasm gap, the new gallop poll finds the republicans have a major advantage here over the
democrats. just 45% of democrats say they're more enthusiastic about voting in 2012 than they were in earlier elections. the republicans on the other hand are more enthusiastic for republicans. that number is nearly 60% who can't wait to get in that voting booth. and that's the largest enthusiasm gap since 2000. your thoughts, michael moore has just said, mark, that the enthusiasm is on the left. go with it. he calls it the center. these are my terms. >> it's not democrats or republicans who will decide the next election. it's independents. the country is between depending how you pleasure it 30% and 40% independent. the biggest party in america is no party. and they're not going to say i'm excited. they're going to switch. people don't understand the math of switching. so if there were ten votes, right, and it's 5-5, one switches at 6-4. you need two new people to get your four up to six to come in. hold on to the center. hold on to the independents.
and you win. that's the lesson of every last election including obama's last election. >> michael moore, you say he shouldn't go for those centrist voters. >> no, no. >> the ones who see themselves as centrist. not by your definition, theirs. >> i understand. again, according to all the recent polls the majority of independents want taxes raised on the rich. the majority of independents want these wars to end. the majority of independents are actually quite liberal on these issues. i agree with mark. most americans do not define themselves as liberal or conservative or democrat or republican. what they look for in a president is someone with strength, someone who is going to lead, someone who has a back bone. so they like franklin roosevelt. they like john kennedy. they like ronald reagan. it sometimes doesn't really matter what the party is as long as they believe they have a strong leader. what they've witnessed with president obama is a president who seems to not have had much
of a back bone, who hasn't really come in there with the understanding that he had a ten million vote margin over john mccain, a mandate from the american people to get busy and do some things especially in those first two years before the republicans had the house. so i just think that that's really where the discussion should take place of getting president obama to go back to being the centrist president he ran as with the positions that he had of ending these wars, taxing the rich, and reining in wall street. independents? you should see the polling on independents want regulations on wall street. they want them reined in. >> mark, what about raising taxes on the better off people? michael moore says that is a popular idea with the center as well as the left. >> the problem is the president has now identified with $1.5 trillion of tax increases plus another trillion dollars of tax
increases in the health care plan. that is $2.5 trillion of tax increases. >> where is the other one from? there are two chunks of tax increases. $1.5 trillion in his jobs plan. and $1 trillion in the health care plan. next year 4.5% on all incomes. if you look at it, he is going into the election saying, hey. sure i'm going to raise taxes more on the wealthy but fundamentally i'm standing for bigger government and more taxes and he's got to stand for more efficient government. along with environmental control. along with a lot of the social issues that he passionately believes in. but he's falling into the trap now. he's giving the republicans an opportunity to say you're for big taxes and big government and that's the key thing he has to reverse. >> the republicans don't have an opportunity at this moment because it is not about him standing with progressives over the left. he just needs to stand with middle america, with middle class americans. people -- how many millions of
their mortgages are under water right now? how many are facing foreclosure? how many millions don't have health insurance as we sit here right now tonight? i mean, this is the middle of the country. and that, if people sense that he is going to act on their behalf, not just give a speech but actually act on their behalf in this last year that he has, then he has an excellent chance. the republicans know they're in trouble. that's why they're supporting all of these voters, suppression laws around the country making it hard next year for people to register and to vote. you don't try to make it difficult for people to vote when you think the majority of the people are on your side. they know, the republicans know the majority of the people are on the side of the things that democrats and liberals and the left and president obama said that he believed in. that's where he should stay. he should be right there. but not just saying it but actually he's got a year to do it. and he can enliven that base and make people enthusiastic because it's that -- it's that base that
goes, they're going to vote for him anyway. but you need them to go out and bring ten people to the polls, ten people who are independents, some of them republicans, some of them who don't maybe usually vote. that's what happened in the last election. people just went out and talked to everybody and got everybody to vote. it's very hard right now for the base to go out there and try to convince people that he's done these things that he said he's done even though everyone knows the republicans have stopped him every which way they can it still is a difficult sell to someone who is not in the base. >> let's look at how he's doing that along the lines you suggest. president obama beginning to harness the energy of his base better than in the past. here he was speaking saturday night at the annual dinner of the human rights campaign. i was with him in the day time and he was with him at night. here is the country's leading gay rights foundation. the crowd gave him an outstanding o for these comme s
comments. >> we don't believe in the kind of smallness that says it is okay for a stage full of political leaders, one of whom could end up being the prfz t it of the united states silent when an american soldier is booed. you want to be commander in chief? start by standing up for the men and women who wear the uniform of the united states even when it's not politically convenient. >> and last week president obama told a fund raising crowd in hollywood out there at the house of blues of all places in west hollywood. here he is talking about conservatives playing class warfare with middle class value, middle class families. here is the president. >> republicans are going around talking about well that's class warfare. you know what? if asking a billionaire to pay the same tax rate as a plumber is class warfare, then sign me up. sign me up. i'll wear that charge as a badge of honor. the only warfare i've seen waged is against the middle class in this family and ordinary
families. >> that's an argument you have to make against him. it sounds like he is siding with michael there on that issue of coming out against people and getting them to at least pay the same 35% the middle class pay. >> i think the president gave as you saw two passionate addresses. when it comes to economics, not the values. if he just goes with i'm for taxing more that's not going to be a winning message. >> taxing the rich more. >> it never was a winning message. tax the rich more. i understand. look at the last election. the number of people making over a hundred thousand, 26%. those voting under 30,000, 18%. he brought them together. you said he had a mandate, michael. he does have a mandate to restore the american dream and to restore the american middle class. but his mandate was based on bringing everybody together. so if he is deliberately going out there dividing people up rather than saying, how do we make america work for everybody? that's what i'm all about. that's not the message we're hearing from the president. that's not the message that
president clinton delivered to get the only successful re-election for democrats since fdr. he raised taxes in '93. and then he paid a price for that in the '94 congressional election. not in the budget deal he didn't raise taxes. in fact, he had targeted tax cuts. >> your thoughts about what kind of a campaign he should run. see if you can define -- i know you are not a political by but point of view guy but what would you like to hear the president say you personally for the next year or so as he runs for re-election, what do you want to hear? >> i don't want to hear anything. i want to see action. >> okay. >> i want him immediately to start doing a number of things. he's turned back the -- he's rolled back the air pollution standards to where they are now worse than under george w. bush. he needs to support his own epa and do that. he needs to end these wars immediately. he needs to bring the troops home. his justice department needs to investigate the people who crashed this economy back in 2008 and we need to see a perp walk. we need to see some bankers and
wall street people arrested who played with and lost the money of millions of americans. he needs to be a doer in the last, you know, he's playing -- he's played the first three kwaurgters ers quarters of this football game. some of the times he ran the wrong way. now it seems he is coming alive in the fourth quarter which is great. now he has to really go for it. he can do a number of things without the house on his side. there are presidential directives and things he can do, things he controls. if he does those things, he will get not just the base but the average american, 72% say raise taxes on the wealthy. do it. he has to push forward. >> we've heard you. good thinking there. >> any poll is going to say tax the minority voters more. the truth is they were his voters he got 49% of those making over
300,000. >> we've heard both sides here. thank you. coming up round two. let's hear from two actual politicians on which way president obama should run. vermont senator bernie sanders the proud social democrat says go left. i expect versus former pennsylvania governor ed rendell ally of the clintons who makes the case for moderation. we'll hear from the inside of politics how do you get to 270 and actually win the election? the great democratic debate of 2012 coming right back on "hardball" only on msnbc. babe , lo ok. [ reporter ] ...passengers, emergency crews are prepared. they're in place. all we can do now is watch. wait. wait a minute. there's a truck. tough to tell from here, but whoever is driving that truck is right below the plane now. this is -- this is just unbelievable! the broken landing gear landed into the bed... [ male announcer ] the midsized nissan frontier with full-size payload and towing.
innovation for doers. innovation for all. ♪ here's one story. [ regis ] we love to play tennis. as a matter of fact it was joy who taught me how to play tennis. and with it comes some aches and pains and one way to relieve them all is to go right to the advil®. i have become increasingly amazed at regis's endurance. it's scary sometimes what he accomplishes in a day. well i'd rather not have time for pain but unfortunately it does comes your way every now and then. and that's when i take my advil®. [ male announcer ] take action. take advil®. she won't eat eggs without hot sauce. she has kind of funny looking toes. she's always touching my hair. and she does this dancing finger thing. [ male announcer ] with advanced technology from ge, now doctors can diagnose diseases like breast cancer on a cellular level. so that women, like kristy's mom, can get personalized treatment that's as unique as she is.
up states that could go either way at this point. they're all states that barack obama won in 2008 and has to win a chunk of them to stay in office. how does the president appeal to voters in the must win regions? that is our question. senator bernie sanders is an independent from vermont and ed rendell served aspen pen's governor and was former chairman of the democratic national committee. thank you for joining us from vermont. the question is how does he win re-election arguing the cause as he believes it? how does he do it? >> he does it by doing good public policy and doing what the american people want to see done. the middle class in america today is collapsing as you know. poverty is increasing. and the gap between the very, very rich and everything else is growing wider. what the american people have said over and over again is they want a massive jobs program. they want to put the american people back to work because we have in real terms 16% unemployment. so if you begin putting real
money into rebuilding our infrastructure, transforming our energy system, and creating the millions of jobs that we desperately need, that is the right thing to do and that is good politics. furthermore, if you begin to deal with these disastrous trade policies, whether you're republican or democrat, most people understand that these trade policies of nafta, permanent normal trade relations with china have failed. we've lost 50,000 factories in the last ten years. millions of good manufacturing jobs. the president gets up there and says you know what? i want fair trade. i want to rebuild our manufacturing base. you're going to win elections and do the right thing for the american people. >> governor rendell, do you accept that as a winning strategy to carry ohio, pennsylvania, florida, north carolina, colorado? will a tough on trade in fact a not a protection, i won't use the dirty word but tough on trade policy, a policy of spending a lot of money to put people to work win elections? >> i think bernie sanders is one
of the smartest guys in washington, d.c. but he has to understand the president is not running for re-election as a senator. i agree with bernie we ought to spend a ton of money on infrastructure, put people back to work, good paying jobs. i agree we should get tough on fair trade abuses like the chinese have been doing. i don't think we should stop free trade but i think we should get tough on people who have been abusing the trade system. i also think what the american people are looking for is a leader, someone who can get things done and bring people together. so i heard michael moore say they're looking for a leader and he's right. they're looking for a leader who can tab the different sides and bring them together. you can do that without sacrificing your principles. it is a false choice to say you either cut government spending or have an economy that benefits poor people. you can do both. you can reform government. we can take those entitlement programs and reform them without actually hurting people, save money, and at the same time do
the things necessary to get this economy moving again. >> but the question is -- >> it's a false choice. >> should the president risk being called a liberal, being called a democrat, progressive, whatever? should he risk that and go, you know, people don't like these terms. they make sense to the american people. should he be a progressive liberal president or should he try to be a centrist? that's my key question. i think the american people read this guy and they're trying to figure out what he is. senator sanders? >> well, i think, you know, the evidence is overwhelming. when the rich are getting richer and their effective tax rates are the lowest in decades and we have a huge national debt, what almost everybody understands is you have to ask the wealthy to pay more in taxes. when corporations are enjoying huge loop holes so that some of the largest, most profitable corporations in america don't pay a nickel in taxes, in federal taxes in some years, most of the americans say that's absurd. so to my mind, chris, this is
not being terribly progressive. this is really kind of common sense politics which makes sense to ordinary americans. furthermore -- >> that is a good question. let's stay on that one point because it is a key question. democrats believe in government. republicans don't. so obviously you have to pay for it. the republicans don't mind starving government. they love it starved. governor rendell does he have to go after the rich and their money? >> he has to go at basic economic fairness. does that mean taxing people who make a whole lot of money who have benefited by this country and have gotten rich in the last few years? of course it does. of course it does. >> will that help win re-election? >> absolutely. >> will that help him hold this job? >> that is the message that will resonate in western pennsylvania for example, chris. >> okay. >> but he's also got to appeal to independent voters. our base will come out. in 2010, he visited philadelphia twice before the election, philadelphia out voted the rest of the state. the base came out. we lost because we got killed with independent voters.
independent voters have to see a balanced president who is willing to reform government at the same time make it fair and you can do both you know, senator sanders, you know history as well as i do. we love american political history. i can tell. look at roosevelt's great speech at franklin field in '36. he said we're going to get to this later in the show but i can't resist now. there is a big difference in the way you sell yourself for president. fdr knew he faced the hatred of the rich, the corporations. they screwed him everywhere they went the supreme court did for four years and he said the hell with you guys. i'm going populist. i'm going to get the socialist, communist, and democratic vote and beat flinn 10-1. bill clinton came back in '96 and said the era of big government is over. i'm going to the center. there are two different ways to run re-election. back to you, senator. should he go rousing left and say damn it you rich guys you're on the wrong side of history? or should he say i'm going down
the middle with bill clinton? big question. it's still my question. >> to me, chris, this is not even left. the american people understand who caused this terrible recession. we have 25 million people now without jobs. wall street. you got crooks on wall street who are peddling worthless paper and these guys caused this recession and they're back to doing exactly what they did before. i don't think it is left to simply say we got to deal with these crooks. they cannot continue to do what they have done, causing so much damage. in terms of social security, you got republicans, you got conservatives. almost everybody understands social security has worked. it is an extraordinarily positive program. today it has a $2.5 trillion surplus. can pay our benefit for 25 years. why in god's name would this president be talking about cutting social security or raising the eligibility age for medicare? i think what he has to do is talk to what the american people understand just like roosevelt
did. he understood that the economic royalists helped cause that depression. they hated him. he was prepared to take them on. i think obama would be well served doing the same thing. >> should the president of the united states go after the economic royalists? i love those words. can you imagine barack obama, careful, temperate barack obama going after the economic royalists and saying, they're out to screw the little guy and get re-elected thoon? c can he do that? >> the bottom line is i think he needs to appeal to independent voters. our base is coming out. they may not be as enthusiastic as the republican base but they are coming out. the question is who will win the independent voters? to win them he has to lead. his speech on the jobs bill was brilliant because he boxed the republicans in by saying each and every one of these items i'm proposing you republicans have supported in the past. he looked like a leader. he looked strong. he looked affirmative. he looked like he was trying to create jobs for the ordinary americans who were in need. that's what he has to do.
but he can't do it in a shrill way. he can't do it in a way that is accusator accusatory. he has to look like a leader. the difference between running for senate or mayor or governor or president is the executive has to lead, is responsible for bringing people together. that is what the independents want to see. >> well, i would say i'm the longest serving independent in american history. so to my mind i think what the people want is somebody who is simply going to tell them the truth about what's going on in this country. and the fact that the rich are getting richer while so many other people are hurting. we need policies to address that. >> we need to make it work. >> thank you, gentlemen. i appreciate both points. by the way, adlai stevenson said speak truth to the american people. i remember that great man. thank you, senator sanders. thank you, governor ed rendell who managed to win in a purple state many times. the great democratic debate continues here on "hardball." we'll ask journalists which direction they think the
networks, the newspapers, how do you get them going one way or the other? how do you get them excited and those bloggers out there? that is a big question. we'll get to that when we come back with joan walsh and clarence page. we'll be right back with the question about how to win this thing for obama. the white house behind me is pink to honor breast cancer research and awareness. # [ male announcer ] if you're gonna build a fuel-efficient car, the first thing you got to do is make a car that's worth building...
one with character and conviction... that has all the luxury you'd expect. then you put in an 8-speed transmission that gets 31 miles per gallon. that combination of luxury and efficiency only comes from one place in the world. ♪ ♪ that's good morning, veggie style. hmmm [ male announcer ] for half the calories -- plus veggie nutrition. could've had a v8.
plus veggie nutrition. the best approach to food is to keep it whole for better nutrition. that's what they do with great grains cereal. they steam and bake the actual whole grain while the other guy's flake is more processed. mmm. great grains. the whole whole grain cereal. i've heard of it, but i haven't seen one up close. what's the word around the sink?
that it removes 3 times more soap scum per swipe, and it came from outer space. it is not from outer space! no, man, it's from outer space. they're aliens on an intergalactic cleanliness mission. they're here to clean up the universe. oh, the kitchen scrubbers are aliens, too? yeah, look at that greasy kitchen mess. everybody's in on the cleanspiracy, man. i can't even trust myself. [ male announcer ] mr. clean magic eraser kitchen and bath scrubbers. the clean is out of this world. the great democratic debate continues here on "hardball." which way should president obama take his campaign for re-election? that's our question. should he move to the left or stay in the center? i think he is moving to the left but i'm not sure. it's the biggest question facing the president as he tries for four more years. we'll debate that answer with journalist joan walsh of slate and clarence page of the chicago tribune. the net roots versus the newspapers you might say. later what does history tell us the smart strategy for the president would be? it's all ahead on the great democratic debate tonight.
you're watching "hardball" only on msnbc. what's in the mail? well, it just might surprise you. because this is how people and business connect. feeling safe and secure that important letters and information don't get lost in thin air. or disappear with a click. but are delivered. from person to person. and, sometimes, even face to face. have a great day. you too. for some of the best ways to connect and protect... it's all in the mail. learn more at usps.com/mail. so if i didn't know better i'd say you're having some sort of big tire sale. yes we are. yeah. how many tires does ford buy every year? over 3 million. you say you can beat any advertised price on tires? correct. anywhere? yes. like this price? yes. riously? yes what about this one? i'll beat it. this one? s we will. right, i only have one more question for you...this one? (laughing) yeah. get $100 rebate when you buy four tires. 100 bucks! only at your ford dealer.
i'm milissa rehberger. a stunning reversal in italian court has thrown out american student amanda knox's murder conviction. she and her former boyfriend were convicted four years ago in the murder of her british roommate. an eight-member jury overturned the conviction today after a review of dna evidence cast serious doubts on the validity of that verdict. knox is already on her way to rome for a flight back home to seattle. the epa is monitoring air quality around a massive fire at a chemical plant in waxahachie, texas. thousands of residents in a nearby school were evacuated but no serious injuries are reported. the senate has advanced legislation aimed at forcing china to let its currency rise in value. on wall street shares in american airlines' parent company amr plunged more than
30% today on rumors that it could be heading for bankruptcy. nba insiders say there could be an announcement as early as tomorrow on a labor agreement ending a three-month lockout. now back to "hardball." back to "hardball" and our big democratic debate. we've heard from the opinion makers and politicians about how president obama should win re-election. so far tonight let's shift the terrain to the media. how does the president win over the media both the main stream press and net roots and bloggers so supportive of president obama in 2008. thank you both. i want to ask you to take a look at what the president said. here he is in february of last year talking about the media. let's listen. >> if everybody here turned off
your cnn, your fox, your -- you know, just turn off the tv, msnbc, blogs, and just go talk to folks out there instead of being in this echo chamber, where the topic is constantly politics. it is much more difficult to get a conversation focused on how are we going to help people than a conversation about how is this going to help or hurt somebody politically? and that's part of what the american people are just sick of. >> so following along with the president, let's find out how it will help or hurt people politically. let's go to joan walsh. i want to know whether this guy is running the right kind of campaign. i'd like to see a good election next time. i've always liked obama. i hope he can get his act together. i'm not sure he will. what is the right way for him to win this election especially
among the people who fight on this kind of network, fight on other networks, fight in the blogosphere, fight through social media and also the good old newspapers that we've grown up with. that war. i want to talk about that war. how does he win it? >> i think he wins it like, we're all voters. and some of us have opinions and get to talk about our opinions on tv. but, you know, the president gave some good advice there even if it would destroy our businesses. and people aren't going to do it. but people should get out of their houses and talk to their neighbors and so should he. i think the more we do that, chris, the more we realize the american people support core democratic ideals. the vast majority of people want tax increases for the wealthy. the vast majority of people wanted the president to stick with the jobs agenda and not turn to the deficit so quickly. they do not want cuts in social security or medicare. so i think we get really lost in this battle and i understand what he is saying that the beltway elite and the media define left and right in very
rigid ways but common sense will tell us that he should be fighting much more of a populist campaign than he has been the last few weeks. >> see populist campaign would win, arguing those issues of tax the rich. if he runs that kind of populist campaign which we've all grown up with this in senate races, if he runs that nationwide, a real populist campaign where would the regular people, they're with the rich, they want the money, we want the programs. does he win? >> i think he wins as long as he shows he's got some conviction behind his beliefs. his beliefs haven't changed. i see no reason for him to try to change them. he needs to make an argument for his programs and his plans to show he really cares about them. people back out here in the real america have been wondering. i mean, there is a majority of people who elected him. there is a majority of people who want to believe in him and who wish him well. and a lot of them are feeling dispointed that he hasn't fought harder for the issues and the programs that he talked about
back in 2008. as joan said that he switched his priorities perhaps a little too quickly from job creation it over saving money. >> okay. i'm reading you here. i thought you were going to make the moderate argument, the mark penn argument, eddie rendell argument be careful on taxes, go down the middle. push infrastructure. don't offend the rich. you're saying joan is right. >> that is the middle. >> here we go with the definitions. we can play this game all night. the progressive side, if it was such a popular side in this country why do they have to keep changing their title and their name? if liberalism sold we'd still be called liberalism. this country has a built-in resentment against big government and i want to know how you win the argument being for it. that is the tricky question. >> that is not the real america, chris. >> okay. >> that is not the real america part about populist, liberal conservative. people of real america care about the issues. rebuilding roads and bridges. whether you're left, right,
middle or whatever it doesn't matter. they want to see the jobs and the work being done. they want to see obama out there fighting for their side. they want to feel like he is an ally and not too aloof. >> okay. let me go by joan. i think joan is on the progressive side and always has been. you heard bernie sanders earlier. tough new trade laws. very tough on trade making it very hard for countries to trade with us who don't want to basically pay our salaries and protect the environment like we do. face it. it would be very tough to get those dmournts the third world to agree to the way we do things here. tougher trade laws. harder to trade. bigger government in terms of tax the rich. go up and raise taxes for the rich and protect the big entitlement programs. that is the progressive point of view and what it is. a more conservative point of view, bill clinton got re-elected in '96 by saying, i'm going to sign the welfare reform bill. i'm going to end welfare as a right and support nafta. i'm going to support balancing the budget. i'm going to cut government
spending as well as raise taxes. he took a centrist position. i thought clarence was going to go on tonight and that's what i thought you said you were going to do and back the bill clinton approach not the populist approach. what is your position? i need to know. where are you clarence? are you with bill clinton? clarence, when they write the headline after the election -- let's go back to your business. when they write the election report after the 2012 election and they said the president won by going to the center or the president won by going to the left and pushing a very populist agenda what will be the winning headline? that's all i'm asking. let's go to our business reporting on this. let's use the usual english language. will he be perceived as succe successfully the left or successfully the center? >> chris, you know as well as i do the same event happens. you get five different headlines and different angles. the fact is there is a lot of confusion over whether obama has changed or not.
a lot of folks thought he was more left than he was in 2008. i think he is more left than he is right now. he has always been a centrist, prague mat i pragmatist. people on the left get disappointed in that sometimes. >> let me sharpen the question. my fault. over the next several months between now and the election getting started should he be perceived as trying to cut a deal with john boehner or going to war with wall street? what is the smarter move? trying to cut a deal with the republicans? >> going to war with wall street. definitely not trying to cut a deal with republicans. chris, two things. after the great debacle, after the debt ceiling compromise, even independents and republican leaning independents said he should have fought republicans harder. people want a fighter. so compromise with boehner. forget about it. the other thing i want to say -- >> i have to divide the time. charn
clarence should he be seen making friends with republicans across the aisle, having beer lunches and all that crap or going to war with the right? >> he should be seen as getting something done or trying to get something done and if he fails at least he'll be able to say he fought hard. >> trying to caught position with republicans. thank you for sharpening this debate. for those of you wondering why the white house looks pink tonight it's because the white house is honoring national breast cancer awareness month as it should be. good for them. up next fdr went left. bill clinton went to the center. which way should president obama go? that's the question for our historians. this is a great democratic debate tonight. you're on "hardball" only on msnbc. [ kristy ] my mom is well...weird.
she won't eat eggs without hot sauce. she has kind of funny looking toes. she's always touching my hair. and she does this dancing finger thing. [ male announcer ] with advanced technology from ge, now doctors can diagnose diseases like breast cancer on a cellular level. so that women, like kristy's mom, can get personalized treatment that's as unique as she is. [ kristy ] she's definitely not like other moms. yeah, my mom is pretty weird. ♪
every time a local business opens its doors or creates another laptop bag or hires another employee, it's not just good for business. it's good for the entire community. at bank of america, we know the impact that local businesses have on communities. that's why we extended $7.8 billion to small businesses across the country so far this year. because the more we help them, the more we help make opportunity possible. diabetes testing? what else is new? you get the blood, hope it's enough, it's-- what's this? freestyle lite® blood glucose test strip. sure, i'll try it, but-- [beep] wow. yep, that's the patented freestyle zipwik™ design. it's like it-- [both] targets the blood. yeah, draws it right in. the test starts fast. you need just a third the blood of one touch.® okay. freestyle test strips. i'll take 'em. sure. call or click-- we'll send you strips and a meter, free. can't i just have these? freestyle lite test strips. call or click today.
welcome back to "hardball." we've been debating for an hour now about the choice president obama does face between now and re-election. for guys we now look back to some american presidents and how they positioned themselves when they ran for re-election. both are democrats, different kind of democrats. what kind of lessons can president obama learn from history and from whom? doug brinkley is a presidential historian and sam tanies is e t editor of the "new york times" book review. let's look at history. on the eve of the '36 election franklin roosevelt made the voters' choice clear. he certainly did. let's listen to part of his speech. >> we have to struggle with the old enemies of peace. business and financial monopoly, speculation, reckless banking, class antagonistism, war
profiteering. never before in all our history have these forces been so united against one candidate as they've been today. they are unanimous in their hate for me and i welcome their hatred. >> i welcome their hatred. that's what he said of big business. in 1996, a different kind of democrat, state of the union speech, president clinton telegraphed his re-election strategy. let's listen. >> we have worked to give the american people a smaller, less bureaucratic government in washington and we have to give the american people one that lives within its means. the era of big government is over. >> there you have it, doug brinkley. one speech written by franklin roosevelt robert shorewood probably and one written by dick morris. your thoughts on what the president should do to get
re-elected. >> the fdr speech that you just played in 1936, october 31, everybody should read it. that is what obama's doing. he is actually turning to the very clip you played there when he is going after the bush administration, saying look, i inherited a lot of these problems, he's also now talking about being a doer and just that 36 clip was about the new deal and that he needed more time to get things through. i think president obama has to go to a progressive left and talk about building jobs, infrastructure, and do it with enthusiasm like michael moore said. people want to feel john kennedy or an fdr that he is fighting for the middle class and he's already calling himself a middle class warrior, president obama, and if he could sell that in ohio he'll get re-elected. >> well the last get re-elected the only one since roosevelt is bill clinton.
sam, is that the right role to go? >> it's true. chris, i've been watching this show intently today. one of the interesting points people have raised is about independents. how do you win the independent vote? what we haven't asked is who are the independents? and today what they seem to be are what we used to call moderate republicans. that is speak who are alienated from the republican party because it's moved so far right. and obama needs to bring those into his camp the way he did in 2008. now, that doesn't mean he can't run in what some are calling kind of a progressive program, but he has to identify that as the sensible centrist one and pro tray the republicans as the extremists. roosevelt had the advantages of coming into office, advantage as it were, several years after economic catastrophe has happened. obama came into office just at the moment when things were
getting really bad. so he, himself, owns more of that than franklin roosevelt did. and so he has to say, he will solve it in a responsible way so those republicans in the suburbs of denver or in greenwhich, connecticut, feel comfortable with him. >> let's go back to doug about that. how do you sell a progressive message of we're going after the economic royalists, we're going after the bad guys who cause this problem, without scaring off those middle of the road republicans who don't like the far right? doug? >> i'm not calling it -- by not calling it liberalism or progressivism, but american can-doism. you give examples on infrastructure, of somebody likilike i eisenhower was a fiscal conservative. kennedy went to the moon. the epa was created by richard nixon. and nobody in the '60s thought nixon was a liberal. clearly this is a -- his opponents, romney and/or perry, you know, they are a different
right than before. he has to kind of make his opponents seem to be like fringe characters and he's the representative of the middle class. and i would also be a little bobby kennedy. roll up the shirt sleeves in '68 and go to appalachia, be seen not just as fund-raisers but get out there and mix with the american people. the secret service may not like him to do that, but i think he's electrifying in person and we need to feel that obama has had his moment. he troyed triangulation. the debt ceiling debate over the summer showed nobody wants to do business with him, that mitch mcconnell was right when me said, we don't want to do business with barack obama. obama has to fight for the history of the democratic tradition of franklin roosevelt and to abandon it by a kind of mele mouthed middle course would be a mistake. there is no grand bargain. this is war in 2012 and obama has to win. >> sam, respond to that.
>> i think actually doug, who's a historian, who's my good friend and historian i really admire, i think is getting a lot of that right. what we are con nefusing at thi moment is partisan politics and ideology. if you look at the last several elections, you look at the successful income deincumbents, who were able to recapture office. they are highly partisan. they were not necessarily ideological. that is to say, the republicans are the bad guys. it's -- >> sounds like truman you're talking about there, sam. >> a little bit -- yeah, it's a combination of truman, reagan, george w. bush, of all people, and bill clinton. remember reagan, no run remembers reagan in '84. he actually had a very bland message. it was stay the course. now it's tough for obama to say that now when things look bad, but he can say, as bill clinton said in 96' you've seen newt gingrich, you've seen john
boehner and eric cantor. you've seen the tea party. is this what is going to save the country? stay with me and at least you're get a sensible approach to the problem we have. >> sounds like moderation to me. thank you, doug brinkley, and sam. as we continue our debate. when we return, let me finish with the final choice of the choice facing president obama. i still think it's a big one. [ male announcer ] you are a business pro. your core competency is...competency.
and you...rent from national. because only national lets you choose any car in the aisle...and go. you can even take a full-size or above, and still pay the mid-size price. i'm getting an upgrade. [ male announcer ] as you wish, business pro. as you wish. go national. go like a pro. now through january earn a free day with every two rentals. find out more at nationalcar.com. nurse...! [ female announcer ] dawn power clean can give you the power of an overnight soak in just 5 minutes. [ sponge ] it's a scientific miracle! [ female announcer ] dawn does more. [ sponge ] so it's not a chore.
so let me finish tonight with a question that has to be answered down there at the white house. and out there at the chicago headquarters of the obama administration. should president obama run for re-election as a passionate progressive? daring to be called radical by his enemies? should he shoot the moon like fdr did back in '36? or should he today closer to the middle, stake out common ground with independents, warning against the radicalism of the right? should he play it shrewd like bill clinton did in '96? again, think of the stakes. if he gets it right he and the democrats get four more years to get the economy back on track with full employment again the norm. the country heading forward to greener pastures, bluer sky, continuing the long good march toward a cleaner environment, a protected climate, a more human, more tolerant fully employed society. if he blows it, the tea partyers and knee wroneocons come roarin. erecting statues to dick cheney. celebrating the death penalty.
elevating torture. ending environmental protection as we know it. breaking unions. punishing gays. starting more wars. enacting one more giant tax cut for the rich or worse. having heard the arguments tonight left and center you have the chance to let the president and his people know what you think. my hunch is that there are a wild number of people out there watching right now this minute who have the access to get their message across. the president needs to dramatize this election and lay out on the table the consequences of this election year. i just said what they are. he ought to be at least as good as i was staking out the differences in the american future depending on who gets those 270 electoral votes in 2012. if you think this election doesn't matter, you're wrong. if you think it matters and don't vote, well there's nothing i can say but that you're not doing what you should. that's "hardball" for now. thanks for being with us. "the last word with lawrence o'donnell" starts right now. chris christie's big seet